People living with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) often find it difficult to focus on a particular task. They may exhibit symptoms of hyperactivity or impulsivity that could interfere with their daily functioning and quality of life. Although ADHD has no cure, treatments such as medication, behavioral therapy, and stress management can reduce symptoms and improve functioning. Additionally, recent studies indicate that acupuncture treatment offers similar (and sometimes more effective) benefits, particularly in children diagnosed with ADHD.
Signs and Symptoms of ADHD in Children and Adults
Researchers have not identified the root causes of ADHD, but factors such as genetic makeup, exposure to environmental toxins during pregnancy or early childhood, low birth weight, and brain injuries can increase the risk of developing ADHD. Males are more likely to develop ADHD, and those diagnosed with the disorder are at an increased risk of other conditions, including learning disabilities, depression, anxiety disorders, or substance abuse issues. In young children, the primary sign of ADHD is hyperactivity (i.e., trouble keeping still, fidgeting, talking nonstop). As people age, symptoms may change; adolescents and adults with ADHD often become less hyperactive but struggle with inattention, restlessness, and impulsivity.
Pharmacological Therapies for ADHD and Their Risks
Currently, Western medicine relies heavily on medications for treating ADHD symptoms. Stimulants, such as Adderall and Ritalin, aim to increase dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the brain to improve cognition and attention. However, stimulants can raise blood pressure and heart rate, increase anxiety, and lead to complications like sleep problems, high blood pressure, stomach issues, and other side effects. Sometimes, a doctor may prescribe an antidepressant to relieve ADHD-associated issues like anxiety and depression. These medications also carry their share of unwanted side effects. Some research has shown that these pharmacological therapies offered some relief for ADHD symptoms but failed to improve self-esteem, mood, and social relationships.
Acupuncture Treatment for Common ADHD Symptoms
As the Western medical community begins to consider alternative therapies for relieving ADHD symptoms, existing research indicates that acupuncture holds promise. According to one meta-analysis on acupuncture for the treatment of ADHD, “Acupuncture is an effective and safe therapy in treating ADHD,” with individuals receiving acupuncture treatment experiencing a significant reduction in hyperactivity. A review of other studies found that children who received acupuncture saw a decrease in hyperactivity and sleep disturbances. While additional studies are necessary to expand on these initial findings, those looking to reduce the severity of their ADHD symptoms may find relief through acupuncture.
Inner Works Acupuncture offers personalized acupuncture sessions that can help to reduce symptoms of restlessness and improve sleep quality. Call our Portland office today at (503) 227-2127 to make an appointment.